U.N. officials report slowdown at Iran’s atomic facilities in lead-up to nuclear talks

(WaPo) – Iran appears to have dramatically slowed work on its atomic energy program since the summer, U.N. officials said Thursday in a report that could add momentum to diplomatic efforts to resolve a decade-old dispute over Iranian nuclear activities.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran all but halted the installation of new centrifuges at its uranium-enrichment plants beginning in August, the same month that moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as president. Work on a controversial nuclear reactor also slowed, the U.N. watchdog agency said. Iran continued producing low-enriched uranium, but at a slightly reduced rate, it said.

The findings provided a boost to the Obama administration, which has joined five other major powers in seeking to negotiate a deal on permanent limits to Iran’s nuclear program. The report suggests that Iran has been unilaterally implementing key parts of a nuclear “freeze” that Western nations have been pursuing during nuclear talks.

The expansion appears to have halted around the time that Rouhani took office. At Natanz, where Iran had been adding centrifuges at a rate of 600 a month, only four new machines have been put in place since the summer, the IAEA report said. No new centrifuges were installed at Fordow, and work on new reactor components at the Arak plant appears frozen, the report said.

IAEA: Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions
of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran – Nov. 14, 2013

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